Piss Ups and Breweries aka The General Election!


It’s not often I focus my blog on the other side of my business life – the event management side but today it just has to be done.

I frequently make my darling boy sit through awards ceremonies on the TV because I’d always dreamed of running the Oscars when I first pondered entering the industry.

It was that or organise the Farnborough Air Show, Southport Flower Show or Glastonbury….the reality is that virtually all the work I have done has been within the education, public, art, and auto sectors. And largely I’ve focussed on conferences, training days, workshops, corporate hospitality and exhibitions…..but I’m now thinking I should have gone into organising the polling stations – who actually takes charge of this and I’ll submit a proposal forthwith?!

My Nana used to go nuts about people who didn’t vote, and I guess, as I’ve grown and attained a level of adulthood (don’t laugh!) after 43 years on this earth, I’ve turned into her when it comes to voting.

For years I have been frustrated, disgusted and appalled by the number of people I personally know who elect not to vote, citing to fellow women that other women had died for this right, soapboxing to male mates that not voting was nothing short of moronic, answering their explanations for their indifference that politicians are all liars, that no one party would do what they want them to do, as a ridiculous excuse.

I’ve spent hours telling people that part of being an adult is recognising that decision making involves compromise, that to assume any party would do everything you dream of and nothing you disapprove of is short sighted, childish and mightily naive.

No surprise then that I was at the polling station – hilariously situated in the bar of our local leisure centre – bright and early and itching for the day to pass so that I could pull an all-nighter watching the votes come in.

To sit watching the TV at midnight last night, however, and hear tale after tale of polling stations being short of ballot papers, refusing people entry, being so short-staffed that it was always going to be impossible to serve a local voting register of numbers far outweighing the capability to cope, was, for me, nothing short of mental apoplexy.

My God how hard can it be?? At one point I wanted to climb inside the TV and hug Nick Robinson whose reaction mirrored my own.

You know how many people are on your register so you know how many papers you’ll need.

You know the LAW! You know that the doors shut at 10pm. If you had a queue at 9pm that went round the block you KNOW you need to call in help and fast. I’m sure looking at some of the queues you knew at 7pm that there was a problem.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

I think I’ve done a bad job when someone’s train is late for a gig of mine and I can’t actually control the trains! I think I’ve let a client down if the feedback regarding one of their own internal speakers is negative, I think I’ve personally failed if someone isn’t welcomed correctly, if hotel staff are chewing, if the tea is the wrong shade of brown, if the sun isn’t shining in June!

I’ve had a delegate fall in his hotel room and need spinal surgery and wondered what I could have done to avoid that happening again?

I had a speaker who classically forgot to organise his visa from the States and wondered if I knew anyone in the Home Office who could swing their admission into the UK (err no, it doesn’t work like that and certainly not on my shift!).

I ran another conference where one delegate assaulted another delegate and had to ask my myself how I should plan for that.

I spoke to a guy once who’d run a summer course where one delegate had murdered another delegate over unrequited love!

Those are event management challenges! Those are things for which you can be forgiven for not having a contingency. Those are the parts of event management that make it an adrenaline rush, which make you feel actually you can think on your feet and compromise is the solution. If you can’t fix it you, you’ll know a man who can and if he can’t then you know a man who knows a man…….ALWAYS a contingency!

And to all of those blindly stating – well how were we to know that people would make a last minute rush to the polls – I can only respond – how short sighted, how unprofessional, what an embarrassment. This election has been ‘bigged’ up in the media for so long, if nothing else you could have pre-empted exactly this kind of thing happening. For once, many WANTED to be a part of something historic and I’m sure watching the TV coverage, many thought to themselves, “Do you know what, I’m off to vote” – well done you for putting off countless people from ever bothering to turn out again – nice one!

So I find last night’s developments nothing short an absolute disgrace of the highest proportions – oh that I had an evaluation sheet to hand.

To those friends and colleagues whom I have historically lambasted for your inability to get off your arse to vote I can only say – you have the last laugh! I was wrong. It seems that, afterall, they couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery so what hope the country?!

And to think we all laughed at the election fiasco in the US!

There is only one course of action in my mind – a re-vote in those wards who failed their electorate….OK I’m off my soapbox now.

Please forgive my language but….you know…….SOMETIMES!!!!!


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